Thursday, 9 December 2010

Free Banking for Charities - Join the campaign now!

At the launch yesterday when Paul Hunt (sic) minister for the DCMS announced their "new" Philanthropy Strategy yesterday which, rhetoric aside, is about an £80m matched funding programme for the arts. Whilst matched funding is very welcome and certainly worked for higher education Lord Myners had the temerity to point out that it's not new money and back end loaded over four years.

More interestly, I thought, he went on to ask,"what have the bankers ever done for us?" and suggested that free banking, for charities, would be a start! What a great idea. Corporates want to do gifts in kind and banksters want some good PR so what could be easier than free banking for charities? They charge us an arm and a leg for services that could be free. Charities don't usually run overdrafts and tend to have reserves simply on deposit with their main banks anyway. Join the campaign today, simply add a supporting comment and lets see what happens. Simples!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The 50 best fundraising blogs

Grumpily but unsurprisingly the agofwks blog didn't rank in the top 50 according to the america guide to schools reported by Howard Lake. There again this is less about how to do it and much more about why to do it better.

Have you caught the report of the Funding Commission yet?(Do read the whole report or at least the summary on the NCVO site). Great launch last night with Stuart Etherington, Richard Gutch, Fiona Ellis and many of the sector's luminaries. Here's the digested read for 12 really doable recommendations that we in the sector can begin to address!

1. Civil Society Organisations have got to step up to the mark. With £100m for transition and possible £3bn loss in April, partnerships, mergers and better value are top of the agenda.

2. Funders have got to make better use of existing resources. Doing less things better and doing smart things smarter is the name of the game.

3. Launch the better asking campaign. Music to my tired old ears. Let's JFDI!

4. Government has got to stop the rhetoric and fund some real long term change. That way avoids the current cognative dissonance.

Let us know what you make of the report and whether you intend to join in.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Accessing little know trusts

We had a most interesting character, Robert Pike, give a session for the fundraising students last week about the "invisible grantmakers".

Many people assume that if a trust isn't in the DSC directory they're hardly worth bothering about. However Robert, who runs a small agency called "Social Partnership Marketing" has been researching those who remain below the radar but still make significant grants. He's been doing this for 12 years and, it seems to me, that his directory published each year deserves to be seen by others with the tenacity to look beyond the usual sources. Check it out you might just find it more valuable than Prospecting for Gold (sorry Andrew).

Meanwhile, like all good fundraising, it starts and ends with RESEARCH, RESEARCH and more RESEARCH.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

21st Century Philanthropy

There is some really interesting research begining to emerge about how and why people are giving (or not). My pal Beth Breeze has just published the 2010 Million Pound Donors report which follows hard on the heels of Cathy Pharoah's Family Foundation Report. The latter comments that the top 100 family trusts account for £1.4bn of donations whilst the former talks of £1.5bn of £1m+ gifts in last year alone. Some hefty numbers indeed and an indication that giving, at high levels, is remaining buoyant even if the seriously well off feel poor when their portfolios have fallen from £100m to £80m.

What does seem to have slipped below the radar is a Report from CAF about British Indian Donors. At 1m of the UK population with the top 200 accounting for £7bn (and growing 5% a year) this is a section of the population largely ignored by UK charities large and small.

Me thinks that we could be doing a whole lot more about our multi-cultural society.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Ax descends

Well George Osborne, the butcher of Downing Street, has struck. £100m transistional relief but £7Bn off the local government spend. No prizes for guesses as to how much will come from that spent on discretionery grants and contracts to local community organisations. Interestingly that's just about what local authorities currently spend in that direction. Melt down in April and so much for the Big Society.

Did anyone go to the EAPG meeting last night at CASS which was going to debate the Big Society. That, in my book, ought not to have taken very long!

Monday, 11 October 2010

e-fundraising - a core strategy or a bolt-on gizmo?

Interesting isn't it? The consultants group at the Institue of Fundraising are holding what looks to be a really interesting meeting on 24th November with some really good speakers. We try to do the same at LSBU each year with guest speakers looking at the latest trends and what's working well. As do a number of other organisations. Problem is it all changes so quickly, doesn't it?

Well at the risk of being labelled a ludite I wonder if it does. It goes without saying, (well ought to) that one must consider the changing state of technology and our uptake of it and that must be built into our communications strategies to avoid redundancy and being unnecessarily overtaken. However first into the market rarely triumphs. Remember Betamax and later the video laser disc both technologies that were superior to those that followed and cleaned up. I'm not sure if its the hare and the tortoise or simply following the first entrants and making a better job of it. Either way you have to be well informed but an element of risk aversion and pragmatism makes a compelling argument.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, "The world will beat a path to the door whoever makes a better mousetrap" but not necessarily the person who tries to eradicate mice altogether.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Summer's Over

Lots to report on the research conference season - NCVO last week and ISIRC this week with some interesting implications for fundraisers so watch this space. Meanwhile a photo of 10 of the first 20 postgraduates from LSBU getting their Institute of Fundraising accreditation from chairman Paul Amadi

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The digested convention

Did you go? Were you inspired? How was it for you?
Seems to me that Nick Hurd set the scene by speaking for 30 minutes without saying anything other than information is power. And there we have the debate. Lots of sessions about storytelling and the power we can harness. Even the sainted Camila Batmanghelidjh told a great story. On the other hand we had the science with excellent sessions on Social Return on Investment, Balanced Score Cards and predictions for generation X over the boomers. Oh yes and a nod to the world cup with the great debate which, some people thought was going to be serious, but with Simon Burne, Joe Saxton, Mark Asterita, Jo Swinhoe (threatening to kill you) and Pauline Broomhead you have to be kidding!

So the outlook for fundraising remains tough, don't hold your breathe for government funds, tell great stories but do the numbers really really well.

Plus ca change but great fun.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Big Debate

Did I say it would be cracker? Well it was. Mick Aldridge, just voted the most influential person in fundraising by Fundraising Magazine, and I went head to head over the issue of paying fundraisers by commission.

Where we agreed was that there are always exceptions and no rule ought to be set in stone and never questioned. Mick made the point that, increasingly street and house to house collectors are remunerated partly by commission though, I thought, ducked the issue of the vital difference between incentivizing acheivement and paying only by immediate results. That of course tends to be the biggest objection that such payments can lead to short termist, expedient fundraising which will, over time always lose out to a well planned giver centric approach.

The crucial point however made by yours truely is that commission payment simply doesn't work! Read Frederick Herzberg and you'll see, or remember that money isn't a motivator. If it's not enough it's a demotivator but that is utterly different. That's why the banks continue to pay obscene bonuses because everyone else does.

So let's not go down that road. Motivation, job enrichment (more Herzberg) incentives for producing outcomes (not outputs) has got to be the way to go.

Or are you still (unlike everyone at the AFC annual forum) unconvinced?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Payment by Commission - The Big Debate

Do come along on Monday 21st June if you possibly can email and book your place (1 Moorgate Place EC2)for the afternoon. I'm going head to head with Mick Aldridge of the PRFA who is going to defend the indefensable! Ought to be fun as well as an opportunity to air some important recurrent issues, particularly in these straightened times. For those unable to come I'll let you know how the debate goes and the upshot.

Meanwhile does anyone have strong views (either way) that they'd like to share. I really would be very interested and will respond positively.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Venture Philanthropy - Whither Goest?

Interesting to see that Scope are the latest charity offering an investment opportunity to venture philanthropists. According to Third Sector, The Grangewood Venture Philanthropy Project involves supporters making donations of £2,800, supplemented by £700 of Gift Aid, and an interest-free loan of £7,000, to be repaid through the sale of the charity's existing property over three years. This is a harder edged offering to the really innovative Crisis Urban Investors package but never the less is worthy of consideration. As is, of course, a straight investment in Charity Bank which spends its time persuading risk averse charities to borrow money!

Something we could all bear in mind is that most of the Venture Philanthropists are, yes you've guessed it, Baby Boomers! We've made our money and are now willing to invest it (well some of it) in changing the world.

Midi Akerwusi describes Venture Philanthropists as: risk takers, calling the shots, fast decision makers, innovators (not sustainers),results orientated and, most importantly, ALWAYS RIGHT. Describes the boomers to a tee. So when you're thinking about innovative fundraising, major gifts and how to tap into this whole thing about "social enterprise and venture philanthropy" think - class of '48 the luckiest generation ever (according to the Observer). Then make your plans accordingly.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Marketing and the Saintly Philip Kotler

Whilst twiddling my thumbs in Tashkent, in transit last week I came across this delightful letter in the Financial Times that, I think, could be shared with everyone who regards him/herself as a marketer or even marketeer! Eat your heart out Adrian S.

“Sir, As an economist trained by Milton Friedman......................I am in full agreement with John Kay on economics’ lack of scientific status.........Any genuine “social science” has to observe human behaviour. But traditional economists have preferred to build a “house of cards” on the assumption of consumer and producer rationality and efficient markets.

Economists have assumed rational behaviour because it lends itself to mathematical treatment that always gives the appearance of science. Had they read a textbook on marketing or followed the articles in marketing journals, they would have seen a huge literature, both theoretical and practical, going all the way back to the early 1900s, on how consumers and producers actually make decisions among products brands, companies and jobs.

Most economists emphasise the role of price in determining choice, to the neglect of other major forces such as advertising, sales promotion and sales personnel that shape and motivate consumer and business behaviour. My argument has been that besides macro and micro economics, economists must add “market economics” (ie marketing) to the study of how the market place actually works. This advance is already being reflected in the rise of “behavioural economics”.

Wadja think????

Monday, 26 April 2010

Not Eyeless in Gaza more Flightless in Delhi

Well, after five days stuck in a Delhi hotel with an outside temperature of 43 degrees we were promised a Jet Airways flight home on 5th May! Needless to say like thousands of others we found that unacceptable and started looking for an alternative route. Thanks to Uzbekestan Airlines we managed a flight to Athens via, wait for it, Tashkent (isn't there an Alistair Maclean novel about Tashkent?). We thought, worst case, we'd get a train for there to Paris or Calais which takes another three days.

In Athens Tuesday night and lo and behold UK airspace is reopened. Two hours and much swearing later flights secured on Friday morning to London courtesy of Olympic Airways. They then became the real stars, wait listing us and getting us home early, weary and much, much poorer. Bo for the insurance companies saying the volcanic cloud is not an "climatic event" and is an "uninsurable risk." Hurrah for the carriers going the extra mile for their client in very difficult circumstances. Perhaps there needs to be a site set up listing good and diabolical practices?

More about fundraising, in India, in due course.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The secrets of research

Whilst at an RNIB event today I was asked about my role as a "Social Scientist" - since, of course, fundraising research falls into the academic displine of social science. I explained that whilst Cathy Pharoah takes a, largely, quantitive approach, I am strictly a qualitative sort of guy. As Dr. Frank Bryant in "Educating Rita" says, "You've got to get your ontological position right!"

In other words it all depends on what you base your beliefs - where you are coming from in terms of your outlook. So, with a new budget bashing the seriously wealthy (effectively a 70% marginal rate of tax over £100k of net income)will well healed boomers be minded to give more to charity rather than let Alistair Darling have it? And of course, it all depends on your ontological position!

So if you are already having a conversation with a boomer who has a shedload of money and s/he is minded to support your particularly wonderful cause, then yes you need to have a very serious conversation about gift aid and marginal tax rates. But to run a campaign to "give us your money rather than the treasury?" I think not. But then again I'm the dude who tipped Imperial Commander on the morning of Friday 19th March. I wouldn't however bet against Kauto Star as I've won a wad on him a couple of times. Result no bet at all and Imperial Commander wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 6 to 1! Wrong position again. Do as I say not as I do.

Friday, 5 March 2010

First Thursday Club

Attended a meeting of the London Group's regular master class session in "The Red Herring" thanks to the good offices of Kevin Kibble and James Buchanan. Great evening though I say it myself. Lots more on the behaviour of major givers. Some really interesting questions about the value of using a conceptual model and the role of volunteer leadership both of which the meeting overwhelmingly agreed are worthwhile.

Lots more research needed into the baby boomers, I'm doing my bit, but even the Institute of Fundraising seems to prefer case studies over research for the convention. Rather sad really. Particularly, since there's a new book out by David Willetts called "The Pinch" about the adverse impact the boomers are having upon the prospects of our children - generation X and Y. Worth the read because it might begin to impact what we do about, amongst other things, our charitable giving.

Be curious and have a look. If nothing else have a look at the video James has posted on youtube at -

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Fundraising Consultants - heros or villains?

Attended an excellent meeting of the consultants special interest group where Joe Saxton of NfP Synergy and Cathy Pharoah of the Centre for Philanthropic Giving, gave excellent presentations about the outlook for fundraising in the UK over the next year or two. Yours truely also did a turn on the impact for major gifts and major giving programmes. I do urge you to go onto the Institute of Fundraising website and look under the Consultants SIG section for the slides.

In a nutshell the jury's still out (of course)BUT there are a lot of implications for improving what we do, how we do it and to whom.

Naturally that self obsessed generation called the boomers are at the heart of a lot of the potential. Though remember as Linus (of Charlie Brown fame) says, "there's no heavier burden than great potential!"

Let me know what you think because I don't have a monopoly on good ideas, just a great supply.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

More fundraising research

Delighted that on Tuesday the Institute met with some 50 or so interested members, practitioners,academics, suppliers and the like to discuss what needs to be done in terms of making more research applicable to and usable by fundraisers. Of course I have a vested interest I hear you say, you're an academic now. Well that's true but I always have an eye to the usefulness of anything I'm undertaking as 20 years of practice has shown me that you simply can't have too much.

Anyway, as an aside, for a lecture about corporate social responsibility to some third year marketing undergraduates I was forced to do some desk research of my own. Sue Adkins always claims that the American Express link up with the Statue of Liberty restoration in 1983 is one of the first cases of Cause Related Marketing. However I found a Marriott Hotel and "March of the Dimes" link in 1976. Then I was reliably informed that Sunlight Soap had an on pack promotion supporting the RNLI in the 1930s. Can anyone beat that?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Why feel guilty?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about feelings of guilt. And that's not easy for someone who has been described variously as being relentlessly cheerful and a remorseless optimist.

Interviewed on in the Guardian ( about street canvassing I remarked that people need to sort out their own preferred giving and then stop feeling guilty about saying no to canvassers. In fact, I said, if they still felt guilty they'e better see my wife the pyschotherapist!

However I've just seen a Muscular Dystrophy poster using a child in a wheelchair with the caption " He'd like to walk away from this poster too". In my grumpy view this is guilt fundraising of the worst kind. Why make people feel bad when, with a bit more effort, you can inspire them to feel good about helping to change the world? It got me thinking that maybe I'm dismissing guilt too readily in pursuit of relationship fundraising.

I'm doing research into the motivations of those who give to charity and maybe I need to revise my methodology. After all if we accept that some people simply want to transact with the charity and not have a relationship that maybe we need to look much harder at some of those negative drivers? What do think? Do you feel guilty passing a blatently emotive, heart wrenching ad?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Why I don't do should............

Haiti has been hit by an unimaginable earthquake. The DEC has launched an appeal. Everyone should do something?

Wrong! In my humble view should is about blame. Haiti has been plundered for more than 300 years. Firstly by the Spanish, then the French - who graciously granted them independence and left a 30 million franc debt in 1803. Since then just about everyone including laterday dictators have stripped the country bare. 80% of the population is on $2 a day. How can you build earthquake proof buildings on that.

But you and I are not to blame. Yes we can do something easy like give money. All of us could, most of us ought, many of us might, some of us will. But should? I don't think so. That's guilt trip we need to avoid as sensitive caring fundraisers. Let's give ourselves because it's the right thing to do, and will help those of us who are directly involved, to ask more sensitively and passionately for people to make a difference. However please never tell anybody that they should give.